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Still Image - Moving People? How Visual Images Trigger the Willingness to Participate in Political Protest

Still Image

Still Image

Funding: Friede-Springer-Stiftung 

Period of Funding: June 2017 - November 2019 

Members of Project: Prof. Dr. Diana Panke (University of Freiburg), PD Dr. Stephanie Geise (University of Münster), Dr. Axel Heck (University of Kiel) 



The proverbial "power of images" has been the subject of constant reflection and research in the social sciences since the beginning of the digital revolution, as the availability and omnipresence of images has never been as pronounced as in the age of new media and social networks. At the same time, we are observing enormous social upheavals within societies, which have translated into an increasing willingness of citizens to protest and the solidification of social movements (PEGIDA etc.) and the formation of new parties (AfD etc.). In the pilot study, the connection between media images, the emotional valence they evoke (positive, neutral, negative) and the willingness of citizens to protest will be examined more closely. 


The pilot study is therefore based on the central question: How and under what conditions does the perceived emotional valence of media images evoke behavioral, affective and cognitive reactions in viewers and thus influence their willingness to engage in political protest? 


In addition to the highly topical question, the chosen methodological approach is also innovative. We combine surveys with eye-tracking methods in order to gain insights into the behavioral, affective and cognitive effects of images. The project draws on expertise from various disciplines and thus, the project team as well is made up of interdisciplinary political and communication scientists. 


Der Pilotstudie liegt daher die zentrale Fragestellung zugrunde: Wie und unter welchen Bedingungen ruft die wahrgenommene emotionale Valenz von Medienbildern behaviorale, affektive und kognitive Reaktionen bei Betrachtern hervor und beeinflusst somit deren Bereitschaft zum politischen Protest?


Innovativ ist neben der hochaktuellen Fragestellung auch der gewählte methodische Zugang. So kombinieren wir Surveys mit Eye-Tracking Methoden, um Einblicke in die behaviorale, affektive und kognitive Bildwirkung zu erlangen. Dabei greift das Projekt auf Expertise verschiedener Disziplinen zurück und auch das Projektteam setzt sich interdisziplinär aus Politik- und Kommunikationswissenschaftler*innen zusammen.